FTE daily green is moving…

Looking for the latest Pintrest Challenge results?

11881637_1668986013333842_221801823_nWant to hear about fabulous ways to live healthier without compromising your lifestyle or emptying your wallet?

You can find all of these answers on our new blog Conveniently Green.

While you will soon be able to connect to it through Favor the Earth, don’t risk missing a post before then.  Head over to Conveniently Green and get started on a healthier path now!

Trying to pack healthy lunches- may want to leave this out of the lunchbox

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? Unless that apple may eventually lead to more doctor visits.  Since apples already make the “Dirty Dozen” list for pesticide use, buying organic apples is important. But, now healthier eating just got a little trickier.

http://www.growingproduce.com/fruits/apples-pears/why-arctic-apples-were-approved-by-usda/Arctic Granny Apples conjure a pure and delicious image.  And while these apples may be tasty, they might also be dangerous.

We all know that a sliced apple will eventually turn brown when exposed to air.  Apparently, adding a little lemon juice, sealing them in an air-tight container for lunch boxes, or just eating them the way nature intended seems like too much work. So, scientists have found a way to end this browning nuisance…voila…the Artic Granny Apple.

A Genetically Modified (GMO) apple.

There is currently huge controversy regarding GMO foods.  Much of the debate focuses on mandating labeling. As of now, companies are not required (in the United States) to disclose GMO ingredients on their packaging.

http://blog.mass.gov/publichealth/ask-mass-wic/goodbye-berries-hello-apples/So, while you think you’re making a healthy choice for yourself and your family, there really is no certainty. Until the effects manifest in a decade or so.

If you’re trying to avoid GMO foods, you’re going to have to trust your instinct when it comes to apples. If it’s marketed as “non-browning,” odds are good that it’s “non-natural” too.

arctic apple photo credit
child biting apple photo credit

Pin 52: Fudgy Avocado Brownies

Every Tuesday I scroll through my pins to find a cool DIY project that I’m going to master this week.  Every Sunday night I think, “Crap! I forgot to do something from Pinterest!” Hence another recipe. Dessert sounded good, I had avocados ready to use, so Fudgy Avocado Brownies it was.

http://www.southerninlaw.com/2014/04/grain-free-healthy-fudgy-avocado-brownies-recipe.htmlI should probably preface with a couple of facts about my “culinary skills.” Although I enjoy baking, I’ve been known to leave out forget an ingredient every so often…ok, almost every time. Mostly because I rarely read the recipe before starting it- which is also why I can never make a new dessert to bring somewhere because I don’t realize it needs to chill for 3 hours first.

Back to the brownies. Amazingly, I didn’t omit anything, but I had a bigger mistake.

Read through the ingredients to ensure a grocery trip wasn’t necessary, all good.

Step one: blended the avocado, eggs, vanilla, and a little water together, beautiful. I’m rocking this recipe. Step two- add melted chocolate. Oops, probably should’ve had that part already started. Just added a few more minutes to the prep time.

Step three: add the cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. So, I added my sugar, baking soda, salt, and dutch cocoa powder.

If you know anything about baking (not putting myself in that category!) you probably caught my mistake. Dutch cocoa powder and regular cocoa powder are not interchangeable. Especially when I used baking soda also. Apparently there’s a whole science behind it- alkaline & ph stuff- I don’t know, I just wanted some brownies.

They didn’t quite look like the picture. They would, however, look awesome for Halloween because they were jet black.

Let’s just say they were also far from fudgy or delicious. I guess Dutch cocoa powder + baking soda = bitter soapy taste. Yum

So, they were an epic fail…this time. I will definitely try the recipe again another day (apologies to my sister- a chef- I cannot comprehend making the same recipe multiple times in one day until it’s perfect).

Follow the Pin 52: Accomplished board here.

Southern in Law Avocado Brownies photo credit

Way to screw it up, Diet Pepsi: why their new campaign is a fraud

Congratulations, you won! All of the phone calls and emails demanding PepsiCo eliminate aspartame from Diet Pepsi were heard. PepsiCo listened and made a change. This month they will unveil “aspartame-free” Diet Pepsi. Good news, right? Not so fast.

af dpRemember, calorie-free doesn’t mean chemical-free. So, to maintain its taste and shelf-life, they’ve merely replaced the aspartame with two other (potentially worse for your health) artificial sweeteners: Ace-K and sucralose (ie.Splenda). Wait..What?!

Consumers are catching on that aspartame (NutraSweet/Equal) do not do the body good. Fed up with nasty side-effects: nausea, headaches, depression, cancer, fatigue, anxiety, MS, abdominal pain, weight gain, consumers wanted a change. Unfortunately, the change they received was more of the same. Ace-K (Acesulfame Potassium) has possible links to cancer, depression, and negative liver/kidney effects. Splenda (sucralose) has been known to cause gastrointestinal problems, hives, mood swings, and anxiety.

So much better, right?

We’re lead to believe that sugar is the greatest dietary evil. Like most things in life, moderation is the key. Consuming copious amounts of soda is obviously negligent on the nutrient scale. But, if one small natural sugar soda gave you greater satisfaction than four chemically laden diet sodas, wouldn’t that be a better choice?

http://www.momables.com/how-to-make-aguas-frescas-fresh-fruit-water/I’m certainly not saying either is a healthy choice, if it’s really about saving calories (and toxic ingredients) why not just go with a glass of water? Diet pop is not an effective choice for weight loss, on the contrary, it’s been linked to weight-gain. So, while I applaud PepsiCo for listening to their consumers’ desires, they’re fundamentally listening to their bottom line, not your health.

Diet Pepsi photo credit
Fruit infused water photo credit

Pin 52 challenge: Bacon Wrapped Mini Meatloaf

We definitely are not a big red meat family. Occasionally burgers on the grill, but besides not really enjoying red meat, I’m not particularly good at cooking it. My mom & sister, however, are much better at it and that’s how meatloaf became one of my daughter’s favorite meals.

http://selfproclaimedfoodie.com/bacon-wrapped-mini-meatloaf/Since I find the whole meatloaf making process fairly gross, it’s usually reserved for dinner at grandma’s. But, after my daughter sent me this Bacon Wrapped Mini Meatloaf pin several times I finally agreed, though made no promises for the results.

I made a few slight substitutions to the recipe:
1 lb of grass-fed beef (instead of 1 1/2 lbs)
Boar’s Head bacon (instead of Wright brand)
panko (instead of bread crumbs)
omitted the crunchy onions

Aside from the meatloafs being a little smaller, I don’t think the substitutions made a difference in the finished recipe.

Even I have to admit, however, the results were pretty damn good.

I think my family was more impressed that I actually hand mixed everything (still gross) than the fact that it was delicious.

It doesn’t pursuade me to add more meat dishes to our meals, but it is nice to know that I have a recipe that can pass as a dinner my mom or sister would serve.

Follow the Pin 52: Accomplished board here.

mini meatloaf photo credit

Pin 52: week two pinterest crochet basket project

Last week I decided to make “someday” today.  I vowed to tackle one of the upteen pins from my Pinterest boards each week. Whether the results were a “nailed it” fail, or a success every Monday you’ll see the results.

Last week I made the delicious slow cooker quinoa enchilada bake, this week I got crafty. Not only was I clearing out some electronic clutter, I dove into my endless supply of yarn and took on creating a crochet basket.

Ok, so mine didn’t turn out exactly like these, but I was still pretty impressed with my first go-round.

Since the link to my original pin wouldn’t work, I found this one from Design Sponge.  While I’ve made plenty of blankets, I’ve never crocheted in a circle before.

I’m quite certain any (and all) errors were from my own lack of experience reading a pattern rather than the instructions themselves.  I definitely used thicker yarn, and my finished basket was not mini. But, it was a quick project that I’d definitely try again.

The result…a little uneven but not terrible.  Too big for keys or loose change, but it works for holding the tv remotes!

Is it perfect? Nope.

But, at the end of the day I have a finished project and something checked off my “someday” list.

Follow the Pin 52: Accomplished board here.

Quick and healthier dinners when you don’t have time to cook

There are definitely evenings when time is not on your side: your meeting ran late, the kids all have activities, or traffic was a nightmare. Of course there’s still the perpetual question “what’s for dinner?” It’s tempting to run through the drive-thru or order a pizza as an easy solution. But, in the time it takes for delivery, you can create a healthier meal without much time or added energy.

Market Stop: Instead of wasting 15 minutes in a “fast-food” line, a quick trip into the market will save you time, money, and questionable ingredients.  Pick up a rotisserie chicken and some Romaine lettuce and you have your own “fast food”: salad with shredded chicken, chicken/lettuce wraps, or tacos.

Befriend the Pizza Joint:  Most pizza places are willing to sell you bags of dough.  Keep a few bags (or make your own when you do have spare time!) in your freezer. The dough defrosts quickly, then let everyone top their own crust.  Cook on the grill to simulate a brick-oven taste.


Call it Tapas: Fridge full of miscellaneous leftovers? Create your own charcuterie tray or dinner bar and let everyone serve themselves. It’s an easy way to clear out the fridge without typical “leftovers again??” complaints.

Rethink Take Out: Drive-thru or pick up your only option? Skip individual orders and pick 2-3 meals for everyone to share.  Most restaurant portions are certainly large enough for more than one person. Split combo meals, choose healthier/non-fried appetizers as a meal, or turn a large salad into a side salad for everyone.

Mix it Up:  Eliminate a dinner rut and do something different. Try breakfast for dinner.  Or, enjoy a fresh baguette with brie and berries.

Plan ahead: When you know a busy week lies ahead, do a little prep work earlier in the week. Chop veggies, pre-measure ingredients, and start the crockpot before heading out in the morning.  A few minutes planning tonight will make dinner tomorrow night a breeze.https://www.pinterest.com/pin/66217056996410683/

Go Al Fresco: Just because you’re on the go doesn’t mean you have to resort to eating in the car.  Stop at a nearby park for a little “outdoor dining.” Allow yourself (and your family) a few moments to slow down and enjoy the food and experience of eating together.

bruchetta bar photo credit
car picnic photo credit

Pin 52: clearing electronic clutter

Yesterday we mapped out a beginner’s guide to well-being.  Understanding that wellness encompasses the mind, body, and spirit, it makes sense that our surroundings affect our health. Paper, toys, and general clutter adds an element of chaos to our mind and environment. Unfortunately today, we can’t escape our clutter even when we leave home…electronic clutter seems to follow us.

http://osxdaily.com/2014/04/29/hide-unread-mail-number-icon-ios/E-clutter: the hundreds of unread emails, countless posts saved on Facebook, not to mention endless Pintrest boards filled with reminders of projects we’ll one day complete.  Just turning on your phone can cause unnecessary stress.

Before the internet (am I dating myself or are you right there with me?!), I used to keep binders full of cool room ideas, books to read, and recipes I wanted to try.  Even though they’re now all on virtual boards, there’s still a nagging thought that I could be/should be doing more.

There’s no shortage of books and tips on clearing paper clutter, but eliminating e-clutter can help reduce mental chaos too.

So, I’ve decided to tackle this virtual clutter.

Yesterday’s “trail guide” suggested creating challenges to accomplish goals, so I’m completing one pin every week.  Origionally I thought Pin 365 sounded catchy, but even I know my limitations and figured every day was a bit of a stretch.  So, Pin 52 it is.

Whether it’s a recipe, book, or project, each week I’ll pick a “pin” from one of my boards and then move it to my “accomplished” board. Of course, I’ll share the results with all of you each Monday.

pin 1Pin #1… Slow Cooker Enchilada Quinoa Bake.

The results…delicious.

Although many people only dust off their crock pot during the busy school year or in the winter, it’s perfect for the summertime too. I’ll gladly spend more time outside doing anything rather than prep dinner inside.

If you really aren’t in the mood to cook, this recipe is ideal for shortcuts.  It calls for corn, tomatoes, onions, peppers.  While some days I don’t mind prep work, but after just returning from vacation (read: slim pickings in the fridge), a jar of salsa (tomatoes & onions already chopped) and my favorite corn salsa (diced peppers? done!) worked great.

You can leave it vegetarian and it would still be delicious; I added some shredded chicken to use up.  Even the kids had seconds.


Starting a new path: a trail guide to well-being

There’s a reason wellness starts with “we”; your health affects more than just you. From keeping plastic water bottles out of the landfills to your children watching you choose fresh produce at the market. Wellness has a cumulative effect on others and the environment. There’s no doubt that our health choices affect those around us: think about second-hand smoke research. More than eating healthy, though, well-being is a mindful connection between the body, mind, and spirit. Feeding our soul is as important as feeding our bodies.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/05/healthy-eating-excuses_n_1652212.htmlChoosing the path toward better health, however, isn’t as complicated as we make it.

We often use time as a barricade for bettering our well-being.

“When the kids are in school I’ll start exercising.”
“After this big project I’ll start cooking healthy.”
“When I win the lottery I’ll travel to Thailand.”

But what if- for a few moments- time didn’t pose an obstacle? What if choosing this new path allowed you the time to live a healthier, happier version of you?

Unlike a “diet” which focuses on your numbers on a scale, clothing size, and deprivation, enhancing your well-being is a journey that provides endless opportunities for growth.

Just like any new skill, the beginning takes a little more time. Even if you haven’t been on a bicycle in years, you probably don’t have to spend as much time learning to balance as you did the first time the training wheels came off.

Think of this trail guide as your training wheels for wellness.

https://www.facebook.com/omforthemom/photos/a.536506006373536.127442.457609704263167/1016430641714401/?type=1&theaterIf you’re just starting on this path, these ideas will help you find solid footing. If you’re a little more seasoned, you’ll love the additional guides that follow this week.

Consider these the Green Run/Beginner paths to better health.

Eat the Rainbow: Sure, it’s great if you can make all of your meals at home, but that isn’t always feasible. Regardless where your meals occur, try to incorporate the rainbow (no, skittles don’t count!) into your meals.  Need a potatoessnack and you haven’t had anything blue/purple yet?  Try blueberries or refreshing frozen purple grapes.

Getting the kids involved is a great way to increase their ‘rainbow’ intake too.  Have them help you choose which green foods to incorporate into lunch, or to try something new like purple potatoes!

Read more about the nature’s medicine cabinet and the benefits eating the rainbow here.

Bicycle built for two…or three. Out of milk? Jr. needs to be picked up at a friend’s house? Usually we’re quick to hop in our car for every errand, regardless of distance, because it’s faster.https://www.facebook.com/ElephantEurope We all know faster isn’t always better though. Try to avoid driving anywhere that’s under a mile (or five if your area is pedestrian friendly).

Yes, it may take a few minutes more, but you’re getting an exercise bonus.  Walk the dog with you and now they’ve benefited too! At least if you don’t make it to the gym that day, you still moved your body and kept a little gas money in your wallet.

Dance like you don’t care who’s watching. Or sing, or draw, or read. We all have a favorite passion that we wish we had more time to enjoy.  life imaginedHere’s a secret…you have time…overlooked minutes throughout your day. Keep a book, sketch pad, or notebook in your bag for unexpected (or expected) delays: waiting for an appointment, flight delays, stuck behind a freight train.

Need more time than five minutes or a slight delay? Dedicate a half-hour or hour once a week for your passion. The dishes can sit for a night while you feed your soul.

Create a Fun Challenge: Adopt an odd challenge just to make life a little more interesting. Put every $5.00 bill you receive in a pretty jar- you’ll be amazed how fast it adds up & you’re  closer to that trip to Thailand or class you wanted to take.$5

Think of three places you can use (or wear) something before buying it on a whim.  Have a contest with your kids (or yourself) to see who can put away the most items during a commercial break. Instead of trying to declutter an entire room at once, finish one shelf, drawer, or corner of the room on odd days only.

Just like you wouldn’t attempt a 5k on your first run, these paths are beginning steps too.  Maybe you don’t fit all of the colors into your meals everyday, but once a week works. Start where you can, and do what you can today.

Tomorrow is another day.

Regret photo credit
Bicycled photo credit

6 ways to reconnect and recharge yourself

Our phones are ‘smart’ enough to tell us when they need to reboot: they respond slowly and they start acting wonky. So, we shut them off for 10 minutes and it’s like a brand new phone once it’s back on, right? Sadly, we aren’t as smart about recognizing the same signs in ourselves.  Feeling sluggish, scattered, cranky, or overwhelmed? It’s probably time to recharge your own batteries.

No two week beach vacation on the agenda? That’s ok. Whether you have 10 minutes or 10 days, there’s time to reconnect with yourself to feel refreshed.

Don’t believe me? Check out these 6 recharging ideas.

no wifi1. Shut down. Sometimes you need to disconnect to reconnect. Silence all devices (yes, including tv) for at least 60 minutes every day. Instead of catching up on emails with your morning coffee, start your day on the patio tech-free. Don’t allow alerts to disrupt your dinner, 30 minutes on “do not disturb” will help bring awareness to what’s on your plate instead of what’s on your phone.

2. Find nature. Sure, going to the gym is great, but taking a walk outside can be even better. In addition to a boost in vitamin D, studies show that walking outside increases energy, decreases stress, and reduces depression. So, lace up those walking shoes and hit the trails or simply take a stroll around the block. Take your walk to a charitable level and check with your local rescue center to see if they have any pups that may want to join you for your walk.

3. Stop and smell the oil. Essential oils that is.  Sometimes you just can’t get away even for 10 minutes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t recharge your mind. Peppermint and rosemary essential oils are great for improving mental clarity and focus. Lavender and chamomile are ideal for relaxation and improved quality of sleep. Need help choosing the right essential oils? Read more here.

4. Quiet time.  Finding time to recharge yourself with little kids around is tough. Reconnect with your soul during their nap time: paint, read, dance, close the door and sing at the top of your lungs! Set a 10-20 minute timer with older kids for a household quiet break. Use that time to recharge your energy with whatever feeds your soul.

IMG_62075. Day tripping. You don’t have to go far to get away. Day trips are a great way to decompress without major travel plans. Find hidden treasures within a couple hours of your home. Too hot for exploring? Find a cave! Visit top ice cream shops in different cities to see which is your favorite.

6. Use up those vacation days. Approximately 40% of American workers let their vacation days go to waste. Don’t be part of that 40%.  Believe it or not, those days away actually benefit your quality of work. Time away from your job can help you regain focus, enthusiasm, and productivity. Try to avoid checking work related emails or phone calls to allow your mind and body to recover from daily stress.